Pandemic Turns Swimming Coaches into Neapolitan Pizza Makers

Fish Out of Water: Pandemic Turns Swimming Coaches into Neapolitan Pizza Makers

With their swimming school forced to close in 2020 during the MCO and CMCO, swimming instructors Ryan Kee and Ethan Chew found themselves frustrated and restless.

Like fish out of water, they moved from the pool into the kitchen and started experimenting with Neapolitan pizza.

What is Neapolitan pizza?

The pizzas we order from popular chain outlets are American-style pizzas. On the other hand, Neapolitan pizza originates from Naples, Italy. The crust under the pizza is thin and soft, and the edge puffy, hollow with charred spots. The cheese, tomato sauce, and condiment toppings are lighter than the typical American pizza. Because of the soft and thin dough, the pizzas are less than 12 inches in size. The irregular shape and uneven edges give the Neapolitan pizza an authentic, ancient recipe appeal. Imagine pizza from the cartoon series “The Flintstones”.

How did two swimming instructors, with no Italian lineage, go from splashing in the pool to authentic Neapolitan pizza? They learnt it all from YouTube! The dough can take up to a week to ferment. They even make their own mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. Ethan explains that by making their own ingredients, they can control the quality, adjust the flavour and make it more affordable for their customers.

Are they ready to go commercial yet? Ryan says they are still baking from a home kitchen and have not worked out the commercial aspects of it. “We don’t have enough refrigeration space to store the dough and have only one oven. We will need more than a day to prepare for an order”.

When the pandemic is over, will they go back to swimming or concentrate on pizza? “Who knows? Someday my swimming instructors will sell pizzas too and earn more income,” quipped the newly married Ryan. Expect to see pizza being sold by the pool soon.

I tried their Hen Solo pizza, with ham, leeks and onion toppings. Typical of Neapolitan pizzas, the very soft and thin crust melts downwards as you lift the pizza slice. Ryan recommends the Hawaiian, where he promises the tomato will taste “wildly different”. If you order the Hawaiian, I will be curious to hear about the tomato.

To order, lookup the menu on their Instagram account, “Ryan’s Artisan Pizza” then WhatsApp or call them at 012-273-1115. You can self-collect at USJ 2 or have it delivered for a fee. Don’t expect to get your pizza the same day. But, if your taste buds are like mine, the wait will be worthwhile.

Know of any other good fish out of water stories in and around Subang Jaya? Drop us a line at [email protected]

The author, Adrian Lim, is a lifelong Subang Jaya resident, calls himself a makanthon-er who enjoys trying out new food joints. Reviews are unsolicited.